Bike bags are getting more and more sophisticated, often combining pannier performance with the ease of use and versatility of the messenger bag. The Messenger bag from the d'Azur range by Dutch bike luggage specialists Basil is designed to be a combination of casual styling, rugged materials, handy features and on and off bike useability.
In an aged, sandy sort of colour canvas fabric, the d'Azur isn't a bag that screams out 'laptop inside' and is styled very much true to its name, as a messenger bag.
It has a sturdy detachable canvas webbing shoulder strap and a padded carrying handle at the top of the bag. There are numerous pockets and organizer sections inside, as well as a large zipped pocket at the front on the outside (under the flap lid). The lid itself fastens down with two press studs, and inside there's a zip in a fabric cover that means the bag can't easily be accessed from outside by opportunist thieves.
In addition to the normal bag features, it also has sturdy pannier attachments at the rear, which have a cover that zips over to keep them from digging into your shoulder when the bag is in use off the bike.
The d'Azur Messenger bag is also designed to be compatible with Basil's optional laptop protective sleeve, and it comes with its own simple elasticated waterproof cover.
For those who like a casual looking bag that doubles as a nifty pannier, this is one worth looking at. It's large enough for a laptop, and with the optional extra of the protective sleeve from Basil, would be great at providing a pretty safe ride for your electronics.
It's a roomy bag, with a quoted capacity of 15 litres, and gives plenty of space for all sorts of bits and bobs, whether you're going to work, or just using it as a casual bag. The strap and carrying handle are both well made and comfortable and the zip over fabric bit inside is a nice touch, giving a bit of protection to the contents from the weather, and as mentioned, deterring wandering hands. It's a shame it doesn't tuck away more effectively when not in use though.
The waterproof cover was simple to use and effective at keeping out downpours, while the fabric itself did a pretty good job on drizzle and the like. The pannier clips are tough and should last a while, with a handy little clip that turns to help secure attachment to the rack. Once covered with the zip over flap, I could barely feel the clips.
As a pannier, it was reliable and easy to use, if a little on the long side. Those with shorter geometry bikes might find it interferes with heels a fair bit. I had to mount it at the back of the rack on a fairly long geometry tourer to avoid my heels scuffing the bag.
Off the bike, it's surprisingly effective as a courier bag, with the rough canvas type fabric making it less likely to slide around than some more technical fabric bags. It was comfortable, stayed put on my back and carried a decent amount.
It's a good looking bag, with lots of nice, well thought out features. I really liked the tough canvas and brass accents, but personally I'd have preferred turning barrel fastenings rather than the press studs on the front. Turning barrel fastenings would have been more secure and looked more classy in my opinion.
Pannier or shoulder bag that doesn't shout "please steal my laptop".
road.cc test report
Make and model: Basil D'Azur messenger bag
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at all sorts of rider looking for a bag for office or casual use that has performance elements as well as looking low key.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Padded shoulder strap (detachable)
Padded carrying handle
Internal organiser pockets
Pannier hooks with security clip
Elasticated waterproof cover.
Compatible with Basil laptop protection sleeve (extra)
Very well made from excellent fabrics and components.
Personally I'd have preferred different fastenings from the brass press studs on the front, but that's more personal taste than anything.
Performed very well as both pannier and shoulder bag, but hard to avoid heel contact when fitted as pannier.
Pretty much bombproof fabric and construction.
It's a solid bag, so it's not light.
Good comfort when used as shoulder bag.
Pretty good value considering the versatility and the build quality and features.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, fabric, ease of use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Length when used as pannier (caught on heels), brass press studs on front flap.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, probably.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A good hybrid between a pannier and a casual styled messenger bag. Laptop capability without shouting about it.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.